U.S. Dist. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan (D.C., Clinton) ruled on April 8 that local teacher Nathan Saunders can proceed with his lawsuit against the Amer. Fedtn. Of Teachers (AFT) for failing to detect a multi-million dollar embezzlement scheme that lasted some 7 yrs. Barbara Bullock stole more than $2 million from the Wash. Tchrs. Union (WTU), and has pled guilty. Still awaiting trial are the WTU’s frmr. exec. asst., Gwendolyn Hemphill, and its ex-Treasurer, James Baxter. About $5 million was stolen from the union.
Under AFT rules, local affiliates are supposed to provide an audit of their finances every 2 yrs. The WTU last submitted an audit in 1995. But AFT officials raised no questions about the local’s finances until they threatened in 2002 to not seat the WTU at its convention without receiving back-dues owed by the WTU. To cover that payment, WTU officials raised the bi-weekly deduction of membership dues ten-fold. Outraged teachers complained to the AFT, which finally started an investigation in the fall of 2002.
Saunders has sued the WTU’s exec. bd. of trustees for failing to monitor the officers’ behavior, and the AFT’s secy-treasurer for failing to demand the required audit. AFT spokesman Alex Wohl said that the AFT would soon present information in court claiming to show that it had no duty to investigate the WTU. [Washington Post, 4/9/04]